Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Exploring the healing power that is already awake in the wisdom, clarity and unconditional openness of Present Moment Awareness.
Mike Jenkins writes a blog at www.heartofpresence.co.uk and works with Spiritual Teacher Francis Bennett, leading meditation retreats and creating and running online courses to help people awaken to the dimension of Spirit within them.
Mike will be giving a talk on Present Moment Awareness and Awakening to Witness Consciousness at Gill's Wild Women Networking and Support Group on Oct 10th.
Turn Toward the Open Space of This Moment and Awaken to Witness Consciousness
These days, Mindfulness is one of those buzz words that we all hear but don’t really hear. Like a word that gets repeated over and over, very quickly the deeper meaning can be lost in haze of differing definitions, misinterpretations, varying and subtle nuances of emphasis… you get the picture. On goes the flurry of words, concepts and ideas and all the while, the state of pure, awake mindfulness that is already present within, sits patiently waiting for us to simply turn toward it and draw from it’s deep well of wisdom and healing.
There is, in each of us, a state of pure, open awareness that is already awake and fully present to whatever comes and whatever goes; present with and as whatever arises and whatever ceases. That state of consciousness we could call Witness Consciousness; the perspective of awareness within us that is present to, yet not lost in, the coming and going of thoughts, feelings, sensations, memory, craving, aversion, fear and anxiety.
Mindfulness is Our Natural State
What many of us forget or don’t pay enough attention to, is that the state of Mindfulness that can be revealed via many different techniques or approaches, is actually our natural state. By that, I mean the state of pure, unconditioned being within which, everything arises and ceases. One of the reasons we forget this so easily, is because we spend most of our lives looking through the lens of egocentricity. We are conditioned from an early age to view the world from our own, separate and individual viewpoint.
Egocentricity generally conditions us to chase after the things we find pleasurable and to push away those things that cause us pain. Living our lives solely from this perspective is the cause of suffering; if you hadn’t yet noticed, life just won’t comply with our design and plans 100% of the time. Try as we might, we cannot ensure that life will always, without fail, unfold as we wish.
There is nothing inherently wrong in the egocentric perspective, especially not when it is embraced along with the wider and much more fluid and flexible perspective of Witness and Unity Consciousness. Avoiding pain and moving towards pleasure, is a natural way for us to survive and prosper. However, most of us perceive the world around us, other people and ourselves from the perspective of egocentricity, exclusively and this can cause us great suffering.
Our perceptions create the reality we live in. If we perceive other people as out to get us or take advantage of us or if we live from the perspective that we are never going to get what we want or need or that there is no such thing as genuine love and compassion, we tend to experience a life heavily conditioned by those beliefs and perceptions, no matter how much evidence to the contrary might be presented to us.
The state of pure, open, present moment awareness however, simply allows what is, to be. Feelings, sensations, thoughts, fears, regrets, challenging life circumstances, illness, dysfunction all arise and cease in the clear open perfection of mindful, aware, presence.
Turning toward Present Moment Awareness in Times of Difficulty, Stress and Anxiety
We can draw from the wisdom, clarity and healing power of Present Moment Awareness at any time by intentionally turning toward the state of Mindful Awareness that is already awake within us. We can practice Mindfulness of the Body and Mindfulness of the Mind to touch into and experience our natural state of Mindful, Present Moment Awareness.
Mindfulness of the Body
My teacher and colleague, Francis Bennett, teaches a very simple practice of bringing awareness to the body that can put us in touch with our natural Mindful state. Our bodies are always rooted in the present moment and exist in a natural state of mindfulness. Our organs, skin, bones, hormones, blood and all the complex biological functions that make up our physical body are always fully present. Our liver is doing its work here and now, it is not lost in memories of the past or rushing ahead to fantasies of the future. It is the mind that wanders back and forth between past, present and future. And unhealthy patterns that we repeat in the present, keep us locked in cycles of dis-ease and dysfunction that can repeat for years and years.
Eckhart Tolle has said that creating no more pain in the present moment is the way to live a future that is free from the negative conditioning of the past.
Simply spending 10 or 20 minutes becoming fully aware of each part of our body, with no judgement or analysis, can open us up to that state of the Witness, where a more detached and objective experience may provide us with the space needed to see things more clearly.
Mindfulness of Mind
Along with practising Mindfulness of the Body we can also practice Mindfulness of the Mind. In this practice we watch our thoughts and feelings coming and going, noticing that thought and feeling are not the only things here. There is something else… an awareness that is conscious of and awake to thoughts and feelings. This practice is particularly helpful to detach from negative patterns of thinking and the catastrophe making habits we can unconsciously develop by dwelling in regrets of the past and anxiety about the future.
Watching thoughts, we can begin to experience the dimension of Spirit within us. This dimension is awake to and aware of all that happens in our thoughts and feelings but is not lost in them, not identified with them is does not create any kind of self-image from them. Practicing Mindfulness of Mind is another helpful tool that can give us an experience of awakening to Witness Consciousness.
Freedom IN, not Freedom FROM
Waking up to the dimension of Spirit that is already fully present and aware within us in this moment is not a way to deny, repress or escape our present pain or suffering but rather, provides us with a new way of navigating the inevitable pain and suffering of being alive in a human body/mind. We practice not to so much to escape and find freedom FROM the difficult and challenging aspects of life but rather to experience a radical freedom IN those experiences.